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Best of Chicago - Architecture

by Robert Sharoff

carson pirie scott building in chicago

Best Restoration
Carson Pirie Scott Building
1 South State Street
In a year that saw the destruction of three Louis Sullivan buildings—two in Mississippi and one in Chicago—the restoration of the exterior of the 1903 Carson Pirie Scott Building is a minor miracle. Bolstered by a $5-million grant from the city, architect Gunny Harboe, then part of the Chicago-based McClier (now Austin AECOM), and a team of restoration specialists spent four years poring over historical photos and other period sources to reconstruct the building’s glorious floating cornice. The project—finished this past spring—restores the building’s original proportions and makes clear why it is considered one of Sullivan’s most sublime accomplishments.

1 Taken off in 1948, the cornice was re-created from photos as well as drawings that were discovered in a file cabinet at the store.
2 The 12th floor was totally rebuilt to return the structure to its original design. The recessed windows gracefully accentuate the cornice.
3 More than 100 pieces of terra cotta—among the thousands that cover the building’s façade—were replicated and replaced.
4 The many “Chicago windows”—two opening side sashes with a large center picture pane—were sanded and painted.
5 The School of the Art Institute’s architecture program has moved into the top floor. State of Illinois offices fill floors 8 through 11.

Best New Park
Park at Lakeshore East
The new six-acre Park at Lakeshore East—the massive new
residential development currently rising on 28 acres of land formerly occupied by an Illinois Central rail yard a block north of Millennium Park—is both intimate and expansive. Ringed by high-rises, the public park was designed by the Houston-based landscape architect James Burnett and includes extensive plantings, fountains, a children’s playground, and a dog run (it is also the first park in the city to offer wi-fi). The effect is of a lush green oasis at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Best Recovered Gem
Lake View Presbyterian Church | 716 West Addison Street
Who knew that this out-of-the-way church at the corner of Broadway and Addison was the result of an early collaboration, circa 1888, by Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root, the pair responsible for such 19th-century Chicago landmarks as the Rookery, Monadnock, and Reliance buildings? Going back to basics, the Chicago firm Holabird & Root meticulously researched and reinstalled the original elaborate shingling pattern as well as the rich red and brown color palette on the neo-Richardsonian sanctuary and octagonal steeple. The result is an instant classic.

Best Addition to the Skyline
Hyatt Center | 71 South Wacker Drive
The Pritzkers, bestowers of the annual Pritzker Prize, the Oscar of the architecture world, have given Chicago its first great 21st-century office building. Situated at the corner of Wacker Drive and Monroe Street, the 48-story building, designed by the New York firm Pei Cobb Freed and built to house the headquarters of the Pritzker-owned Hyatt Corporation, has the sleek curvilinear form of an electronic gadget. The elliptical floor plate eliminates corner offices, a nod to the supposed flattening of the workplace hierarchy. The lobby’s stunning bamboo garden—unfortunately, locked up behind the security checkpoint—is another marvel from the noted local landscape designer Peter Lindsay Schaudt.


 Best of Chicago - Table of Contents

Best of Chicago - 01

Best of Chicago - 02

Best of Chicago - 03

Best of Chicago - 04

Best of Chicago - 05

Best of Chicago - 06

Best of Neighborhhoods - Albany Park

Best of Neighborhhoods - Evanston

Best of Neighborhhoods - Highwood

Best of Neighborhhoods - Hyde Park

Best of Neighborhhoods - Ukrainian VIllage and East Village

Best of Chicago - Architecture
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